Home | Contact Us | Print Page | Sign In | Join Now
ABF E-Buzz: July 2011
Share |

ABF E-Buzz — July 2011

In This Issue:

Welcome Back to E-Buzz

by Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

Where is the Bee?
Where is the Blush?
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July
Where is the Seed?
Where is the Bud?
Where is the May?
Answer thee me.

"Answer July" Emily Dickinson

Just what shall we wish for in the coming months that will bring an end to this year of 2011? The past month has been challenging for many of us beekeepers across the country.  Continued rains and flooding along the larger rivers have kept some from getting to their bees and getting more supers on and doing critical summer management.  It has been difficult for many who are, on the other hand, experiencing drought, which has crept from West Texas into Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Arkansas.  Many are reporting crops that are half of what is normally expected off of crops, such as guajillo, tallow, sweet clover, sourwood and alfalfa.  We can only hope that those in honey belt of Nebraska and the Dakotas have enough time to make an above average crop to make up the difference.

For those of us who have to buy one or more semi-loads of honey each year to meet our packaging requirements, high prices are good for what we can produce, but it squeezes the margins down on what we have to buy.  Current margin levels are at a point where it is difficult to maintain plant and equipment, let alone expand or add additional production facilities.  Most wholesalers are reluctant to expand pricing due to competition from foreign honey, which is still selling for well below what it costs to produce here in the United States.  This is always a market force that all producers of anything in the United States today face.

So, do we hope for a big crop that would likely lower prices and reduce margins for the producer? In the remaining few weeks that still offer a chance, this seems to be an unlikely outcome.  Usually, high prices for honey result in an expansion of the honey production units or colonies and increased production forces some good competition, which lowers prices a bit. We can hope that this scenario plays out perhaps in the next few years and that numbers of colonies increase.  Let us hope that we can find some answers to virus problems and other health stresses that are affecting our bees and the shrinking forageable acres we have to harvest from.

In this month's issue of ABF E-Buzz, we welcome another contribution from Peter Teal, who presents another great installment of "Science Buzz."  There's also a great recipe for a quick and versatile way to make a one-dish meal, Easy Fried Rice. We also have a great "Beekeeper of the Month" article on long-time ABF member John Talbert from Sabine Creek Honey Farm, as well as some helpful "Buzzmakers" to keep you informed on what's happening in the world of bees.

So, thanks again for stopping by and we hope you find ABF E-Buzz informative and helpful in your beekeeping experience.  If you have anything you would like to contribute to the newsletter, just drop me an e-mail at tuckerb@hit.net. Have a "beeutiful" August and stay cool!

Science Buzz

by Peter Teal, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS

Peter Teal

We all know that the Varroa mite, scourge of the honey bee worldwide, is incredibly difficult to control using classical in-hive pesticide approaches.  This is because mitacides must not only kill Varroa, but also have little or no toxic effects on bees. This is incredibly difficult because both mites and bees are arthropods and usually toxins for one arthropod are also toxic to other arthropods.  Additionally, there are scientific reports that mites have developed resistance to fluvalinate and amitraz and good evidence that resistance to coumaphos is increasing.

Currently, tau-fluvalinate impregnated into plastic strips (Apistan®) is available for use, but sprayable formulations are not.   Tua-fluvalinate is a pyrethroid neurotoxin and nearly all pyrethroids are highly toxic to bees.  Additionally, little is known about the sub-lethal effects on bees.  Amitraz had a short life as a control measure for Varroa because bee keepers reported significant colony losses after treatment and it was withdrawn from the market. This pesticide acts as a signaling chemical between nerves and mimics a compound found in high amounts in the honey bee brain.  As such, it is likely that the compound has significant effects on behavior of bees and, even at sub-lethal amounts, may cause changes in worker behavior.  Coumaphos is currently available for use against both Varroa and small hive beetles (Checkmite+®) and like the above pesticides is a neurotoxin.  Although bees are able to detoxify doses of coumaphos used to control mites, coumaphos has been shown to have effects on queen size and longevity and to reduce the fertility of drones.  The most recent classical pesticide available for Varroa control is fenpyroximate, which received a Section 18 registration under the name Havistan®.  This compound is not a neurotoxin and probably acts by interfering with energy production in cells.  As of yet, no resistance to fenpyroximate has been detected in Varroa mites, but as with all classical pesticides resistance will probably emerge and adult bee mortality has been observed in the early days following application. 

In addition to classical pesticides, there are control strategies using naturally occurring chemicals, including organic acids and essential oils.  To date, there has been no documentation of resistance to either class of these natural products.  Organic acids that have been used with success include oxalic and formic acids.  Of the two, only formic acid has a Section 18 registration for use in the United States under the trade name MiteAway II®.  The likely mode of action for formic acid is similar to that of fenpyroximate in that it probably inhibits energy production, but it may also cause nervous excitation.  Although this acid is present in hives naturally, large concentrations of formic acid can reduce worker longevity and brood survival.  

Additionally, many different essential oils have been shown to be effective in controlling the mite.  Essential oils are what give plants their odors.  For example, the pinene smells like pine and limonene smells like lemons. At this point, the principal essential oil in registered products available for Varroa control, Apilife Var® and Apigard®, is thymol the essential oil in the herb thyme.  Reports indicate that these formulations are very effective.   However, studies have shown that thymol is more toxic to bees than most other essential oils when used as a fumigant and that thymol can result in increased queen mortality and induce bees to remove brood.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information on how these products kill Varroa mites or the sub-lethal effects of them on bees.

So, what's the bottom line on use of chemicals to control Varroa?  First, do your homework, check with other beekeepers, read the labels and material data safety sheets before making a decision.  Second, pick a product that you are comfortable with, and third, if a decision is made to use any of the pesticides, it is absolutely imperative that you follow label instructions to the letter and that you monitor treated hives for problems.  If problems arise, contact the county extension agents and let them know the problems.
The publication from which I obtained most of the information for this "buzz bit" came from a paper in the journal Apidologie titled "Pesticides and honey bee toxicity - USA" published in 2010, volume 41, pages 312-322 and written by R. Johnson, M. Ellis, C. Mullin and M. Frazer. Marion Ellis is the contact author (mellis3@unl.edu).  It is available online at www.apidologie.org.  The paper deals will many issues associated with pesticides and bees and would be an interesting read.  Indeed the whole volume has many interesting articles on honey bee health and is worth reading.  Additionally, there is also an interesting article in Apidologie on essential oils, "Use of essential oils for the control of Varroa jacobsoni Oud in honey bee colonies" (Volume 30, pp. 209-228, 1999).

Beekeeper of the Month: John Talbert

by Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

John Talbert grew up a Texan, living on a dairy farm in McLennan County near Waco. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in mechanical engineering, he spent two years in the United States Army. During this time he was able to quickly move up in rank and worked with a group of engineers on surveillance drone aircraft. This was to be the start of a career in the defense industry that lasted through 37 years at E-Systems, Inc., which was purchased by Ratheon before his retirement in 2000.

John Talbert

During his days at E-Systems, John was a part of the design and installation of many high-technology systems, which included the digital scanning systems that the Postal Service uses to scan and sort mail and space imagery. He also oversaw the installation of large computer systems that E-Systems developed for the government and had one of the highest security clearances you can get working for the government. It was also a time of raising family with his wife of 50 years, Lavada. Their two children, Leslee and John, have rewarded them with three grandsons.  John said he was on the road a lot and during his career he also served as the president of the American Institute of Plant Engineers and was as active in the group as he now is with the ABF. 

John started keeping bees in 1985 and worked up over the years approaching his retirement to 200 hives or more.  Since his retirement from Raytheon, he has been as busy as ever with the bees and beekeepers.  John served as president of the Texas Beekeepers Association from 2004 to 2006 and as the president of the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association (CCHBA), as well.  He still remains active in service to these organizations and manages the State Fair of Texas honey exhibit booth every year, as well helping with setting up the display and coordinating staff to man the booth. They have a nearly month long fair in Texas (yes, everything is larger there) and total estimated attendance at the fair is over 2 million.  Each year they give out thousands of informational brochures and honey recipes from the local, state and ABF honey queens.  "It is a great opportunity to meet the public and inform them of the business that we all do," John notes.
John often talks of his passion for the bees, but he also has a passion for people and educating those people to become beekeepers, as well.  Each year classes are offered through the Collin County club, which instructs 25 people in the art of keeping and caring for bees. This past year the club has increased to two classes due to the huge demand in the area for information on the topic of bees.  John says with the special youth class they are able to reach approximately 75 people, as they require a parent to take the class with each of the young people, who are scholarship students of the CCHBA Youth Program.  Their club honey queen is also present at the meetings and sometimes many of the past honey queens show up for some of the classes.

The Honey House at Sabine Creek Honey Farm

These instructional classes run for five weeks and the last two weeks involve some hands-on experience, such as lighting and maintaining smoke in the smoker and how to recognize a healthy hive as opposed to one that is not doing well. There is also a hands-on experience where everyone is given a queen cage and they take off their gloves and put five worker bees into the cages.  This helps the "newbees" get used to working without gloves and demonstrates that you can handle bees without getting stung.

Each year the CCHBA sponsors young people in its scholarship program and initiates young people into the business.  One of those recipients of the scholarship was current ABF Director Blake Shook and he is now partnering with John in running over 1,500 hives.  They run the bees to California for pollination and then come back to Texas to make splits and send bees to the guajillo in Southwest Texas (this is actually one of my favorite honeys along with mesquite). They move the bees to Tallow after that in the hopes of another crop, which also includes lots of other wild flowers that bloom in May.

John said this year they have been way down in production on both crops, and the Tallow started early and ended quickly after moving the bees into those areas.  The bees are currently rented out to a beekeeper in North Dakota for summer production of clover honey.  The dry weather has John and Blake working to keep the bees in shape for the coming winter.  There is always rebuilding to do, as there are losses each time you stress the bees with a move and these losses can run up to 6 to 8 percent.

John has quite the extracting facility, in addition to a small, 20-frame system that he rents it out to small scale beekeepers who do not have the justification for putting in an extracting facility of their own.   The extracting facility is rented out in two-hour increments for people to use at $15 per hour, which I thought would be a great deal for anyone who can use it!

John is constantly working with the bees each day and serves the ABF on the Board of Directors, as he has for 10 years now.  Always a participant in the annual meetings, he helped initiate me to my first term as a Board member several years ago and is always available to offer help or insight into any problems we face with beekeeping today.  He is currently working on a committee to develop additional educational programming for ABF members.

Last, but not least, he also serves as executive secretary of the Texas Beekeepers Association.  He loves meeting people through these groups and while he says he does enjoy meeting people, some can be difficult to like, but they all deserve respect.  That's a pretty good rule to live by!  Thanks to John and Lavada for being such great advocates for teaching and developing so many beekeepers in Texas from their facility at Sabine Creek Honey Farm.

Bee Informed: Migratory Beekeepers Get New H2A Rules

The Labor Department has issued "special procedures" that allow migratory beekeepers to move their H2A workers from state-to-state without having to register them in each state. The new procedures had been requested by the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF).

"This is great news," said ABF Past President Zac Browning, who had been working for the change for several years. "The old procedure was a real hassle. This gives us much more flexibility in our operations."

Under the old procedures, migratory beekeepers had to advertise for domestic workers and certify their need for foreign workers in each state where they needed workers. Now, they can make one certification and provide an itinerary showing where the workers will be used.

Browning and other members of the ABF Legislative Committee had maintained constant pressure on the Department to adopt the new procedures, which are similar to those already in place for other employers, such as custom grain harvesters.

For more information regarding the special procedures, visit http://www.abfnet.org/associations/10537/files/H2A_Beekeeper_Procedures.pdf.

Bee $100 Richer: Join the ABF Buzz Club!

by Amanda Hammerli, ABF Membership Coordinator

Want to be a member of the ABF Buzz Club?  It's easy and rewarding!  For the months of August and September 2011, the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) will hold an ABF Buzz Club membership drive, which will be open to all ABF active members.  For every new member you bring to the ABF, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 American Express gift card.  The more new members you bring the more chances you have to win the gift card. (Please see Rules and Regulations below.)  

The rewards do not stop in September! If you provide the ABF with five new members between August 2011 and January 2012, you will become a member of the ABF Buzz Club and will receive an ABF Buzz Club pin.  As a member of the ABF Buzz Club, you will be eligible for the ABF Buzz Club Award, which will be presented to the ABF member who has generated the most new members in one year.  The award recipient will be recognized during the banquet at the ABF annual meeting in January 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Please see Rules and Regulations below.)  

Have a question or need membership applications?  Contact Amanda Hammerli, ABF membership coordinator, at 404.760.2875 or amandahammerli@abfnet.org.  Thank you for your participation and let's start buzzing!  

ABF Buzz Club Rules and Regulations:

  • For the new member to be considered eligible for the contest at no point should the new member have ever been a member of the ABF.
  • The new member must be 18 years or older.
  • The new member must completely fill out and return a membership application with full payment.  The application must have the current ABF sponsoring member's name written on the form.   
  • One new member per application.
  • All membership applications and payment are due no later than September 30, 2011, at 12:00 a.m. ET.*  Any applications turned in after September 30, 2011, will not be eligible for the American Express gift card, but are still qualified for the end-of-the-year ABF Buzz Club Award.  The ABF Buzz Club contest winnings will only be awarded in the form of an American Express gift card.  
  • The ABF Buzz Club annual award contest ends December 16, 2011.** All membership applications and payment must be turned in by 12:00 a.m. ET on December 16, 2011.
  • Membership can be paid with cash, check, money order or credit card, and applications can be e-mailed to info@abfnet.org, or mailed or faxed to:

American Beekeeping Federation
3525 Piedmont Road
Building 5, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30305
404.240.0998 (fax)

*Must arrive on or before September 30, 2011, to be eligible for the American Express gift card drawing.
**Must arrive on or before December 16, 2011, to be eligible for the ABF Buzz Club Award.

Bee Included: Do We Have Your Correct Contact Information?

by Amanda Hammerli, ABF Membership Coordinator

Set the record straight! Now is the time to update your membership information for inclusion in the 2011-2012 ABF Membership Directory.  The directory is a useful resource that helps the beekeeping industry stay connected...and we want to make sure we have the right information for you!

To confirm and update your membership information online, use your username and password to login to the ABF Web site at www.abfnet.org.  If you have forgotten your username and password, please feel free to contact me at 404.760.2875 for assistance.  I am more than happy to help you update your information over the phone!  Membership updates must be received by August 31, 2011.

Bee Recognized: Call for Nominations for the NAPPC 2011 Pollinator Advocate Award

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) is pleased to solicit nominees for the 2011 Pollinator Advocate Award. This award recognizes individuals and/or organizations in Canada, the United States and Mexico that have contributed significantly to pollinator species protection and conservation and to public education resulting in increased awareness of the importance of pollination.

All activities that contribute significantly toward pollinator conservation will be considered, including, but not limited to, on-the-ground projects, educational programs, development of policies and partnerships, research on pollinators, advocacy for pollinators, or management activities that promote pollinators. Please note: NAPPC partners are not eligible. You can submit more than one nomination.

Recipients will be recognized during the NAPPC reception at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., or in their hometown if they are unable to attend.
Download your application form at http://www.pollinator.org/awards.htm and return it to Vicki Wojcik at the Pollinator Partnership by Monday, August 15, 2011. Awardees will be notified no later than August 22, 2011, to allow for travel arrangements.

Bee Involved: A Message from the President of Apimonida

Apimondia is the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations and other organisations working within the apiculture sector. The Federation was founded by resolutions passed at the XIII International Apicultural Congress of 1949 in Amsterdam and is the successor to the International Apiarist Congress Secretariat founded in 1895. Apimondia exists to promote scientific, technical, ecological, social and economic apicultural development in all countries.

A major objective of Apimondia is to facilitate the exchange of information and discussions. This is done by organising Congresses and Symposia where beekeepers, scientists, honey-traders, agents for development, technicians and legislators meet to listen, discuss and learn from one another. There is a great need to meet the people with whom you communicate, face to face. But we must go further and apply a new strategy with audacious initiatives:

  • Set-up five new "Regional Commissions" (one per continent) beside the seven existing "Scientific Commissions." The goals are to obtain a more efficient and balanced Executive Council and an effective tool to help beekeepers and their bees worldwide.
  • Create several Apimondia Working Groups (AWGs) in order to solve urgent and less-urgent problems.
  • Provide judicious Apimondia Digital Kits (ADKs), compilation of PDF files with added value information.
  • Foster better partnerships with UNO agencies, beekeeping entities and regional associations worldwide.

To achieve the above goals we need your support:

  • Become an Apimondia member yourself (the American Beekeeping Federation is currently a member).
  • Participate in the next International Congress in Argentina in September 2011.
  • Tell people about our Web site and, please, give us your suggestions to improve this Web site.

Learn more about Apimondia and its initiatives at http://www.apimondia.com/en.

Gilles Ratia, President, Apimondia
Le Terrier
F-24420 Coulaures - France
Tel.: +33 (0)5 53 05 91 13
Mobile: +33 (0)6 07 68 49 39
E-mail: gilles@apiservices.com

Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • Honey bee researcher and apiculturist Brian R. Johnson, a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, has joined the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Learn more about Brian and his work at http://www.californiaagnet.com/pages/landing_news?Brian-R-Johnson-is-the-new-apiculturist-=1&blockID=537447&feedID=2523.
  • Researchers at Cardiff University and the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW) plan to construct a detailed profile of the nation's honey. By analyzing each sample, they aim to identify plants that can help to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), scourge of many a hospital ward, and also diseases ravaging the bee population. Discover more at http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jul/25/honey-antibacterial-research-mrsa-c-difficile.
  • A new study reveals how enzymes in the honey bee gut detoxify pesticides commonly used to kill mites in the honey bee hive. This is the first study to tease out the precise molecular mechanisms that allow a pollinating insect to tolerate exposure to these potentially deadly compounds. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An overview can be found in "Catch the Buzz" at http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2011.
  • The European honey bee, first imported to the Colonies some 400 years ago, has been the domesticated pollinator workhorse in the United States since people began trucking them up and down highways in the 1950s. Now, at least a hundred commercial crops in the United States rely almost entirely on managed honey bees, which beekeepers raise and rent out to tend to big farms. National Geographic digs a bit deeper at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/pollinators/holland-text.
  • O’Hare International Airport in Chicago sits on an old apple orchard and was once known as Orchard Field – hence the code “ORD.”  Now, agriculture is making a comeback at the airport. A group is raising bees right along the runways at the busy airport, which is a first for any U.S. airport. Check out the details at http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/07/06/ohare-becomes-first-u-s-airport-to-host-beehives/?hpt=us_bn6.
  • Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida, Jamie Ellis, says the industry had about 2 and a half million honey bee colonies at one time, but it's losing 30 percent of them a year. He says the disorder is due to various factors, but pesticide exposure could be one of them. Learn more at http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201107/s3270136.htm.
  • A recent semi truck wreck spilled 14 million honey bees and sent Idaho firefighters scrambling to the scene.  The semi was transporting the bees from Bakersfield, California, to Minot, North Dakota, when the truck ran off the shoulder of U.S. Highway 20. Its cargo of more than 400 hive boxes tipped over and released the bees and spilled honey along the roadway. See the outcome at http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-products/cafs/articles/1077825-Semi-wreck-spilling-14M-honeybees-draws-Idaho-firefighters/.

ABF Welcomes New Members — June 2011

  • Roger Bemis, Alabama
  • Sheila Goode, Texas
  • Leonard Griffin, Georgia
  • David Hamilton, Mississippi
  • Mike Hatch, Texas
  • Dennis Howell, Illinois
  • Steven Martin, West Virginia
  • Rachel Navaro, Vermont
  • Jose Quinones, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Sergio Saladrigas, Florida
  • Joe Swiatek, Illinois
  • Hayden Wolf, Texas

Recipe of the Month: Easy Fried Rice

Recipe from Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

It is best to cook the rice a day before or several hours before you plan to prepare, such that you can cool the rice, preferably in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.  To fix rice for two to three servings, I use two (2) cups of water and one (1) cup of Jasmine rice (when I have it), but any white or brown rice will do.  Bring water to a boil, add a dash of salt and a teaspoon of butter.  For a change, you can add about a half a teaspoon of curry powder, which will add a little heat and flavor to the rice.

To prepare the fried rice you will need:

  • 2 cups of cold rice
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup shredded spinach or peas
  • ½ cup sliced celery (slice at 45 degree angle thinly)
  • ½ cup sliced green onions (slice thinly in 2 to 3-inch strips)
  • 2 cups cooked shrimp, chicken, pork or ham
  • 2 to 3 t. cooking oil
  • 3 eggs (either boiled, peeled and quartered, or scrambled)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 t. soy sauce
  • 1 dash ground ginger
  • 1 dash red pepper

For an even simpler recipe, you can delete the spinach or peas and bean sprouts and use a 15 oz. can of mixed Chinese vegetables that contain bean sprouts, baby corn and water chestnuts.


  • Use a large skillet or wok if you have one. 
  • When hot, add oil and scramble eggs if your prefer over boiled eggs.
  • Remove scrambled eggs, set aside and replace oil with about a t. of oil.
  • When oil is hot, add celery and onions, stirring to cook for two minutes.
  • Add soy sauce, honey, ginger and pepper, mixing thoroughly.
  • Add shrimp or meat, peas or spinach and bean sprouts, stirring for a minute or two to mix all ingredients.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let stand for five minutes. 
  • While dish is standing, slice scrambled eggs into strips.
  • Add to dish and mix before serving.
  • If using boiled eggs, slice them into quarters and sprinkle with a little salt and paprika to complement the fried rice after placing on a serving plate.   
  • This dish can be made a variety of ways, with one of my favorite additions being a half a cup of sliced pineapple to add some zip.